Emerging Trends in Homebuilding

Recently a new report from Urban Land Institute has been making waves throughout the construction and design industries. This reputable and widely spread forecast outlines the transition from the post-recession slump in housing to the bright future ahead. Most interesting however, are some of the general trends covered in the report:

“18 Hour” cities such as Portland, Oregon are projected to rapidly grow

Smaller Cities Will Grow the Most. Places such as Austin, Portland, Raleigh, and Charlotte will likely grow at substantially faster rates than traditional, better-known big cities. Lower cost of living, better transit connectivity, and more open opportunities for investment are making these smaller cities attractive for residents, builders, and investors alike. Portland is already feeling the growth, as it’s rental rates/cost are among the fastest rising in the nation (we’ve seen this firsthand, as we’ve provided surface protection to a number of new urban projects there). Austin is experiencing its own building boom, rent increases, and growth; and its skyline will soon feature a new tallest building—a residential skyscraper.

Decline in Home Ownership. It’s been well documented for some time that millennials are waiting longer to purchase homes, and fewer are even doing so. Interestingly however, a decline in home ownership rates is being seen across all age groups. While the home ownership rate was 70% before the economic downturn, that rate has declined and has been stuck at 63% ever since. Even with the modest recovery taking place and the rapid growth of smaller cities, home owenership rates aren’t growing. As a result, non-traditional housing options are increasingly popular. Microhousing units (residences smaller than 350 sqft) are cropping up in urban centers, and rental properties are increasingly desirable; as seen through the massive increases in rental cost in Portland, Austin, and other smaller cities. There certainly exist opportunities for new and creative housing solutions in cities.

Less Parking. Recently, a very popular image overlaying the amount of parking in Los Angeles relative to the size of L.A. has gone viral. It illustrates a big problem with modern cities; parking lots are an inefficient use of land.

The degree to which parking wastes urban space in L.A.

Urban density is increasing, public transit is improving, and fewer young Americans are choosing to own cars. Expect to see a transition away from parking lots towards parking garages and underground lots.

It will be interesting to follow 2016’s new housing starts to see if any of these highlighted trends become apparent. Stay up to date with all of our blogging and social media efforts by checking in for our weekly blog postings!

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